Local online retailers could be losing out on valuable sales this Christmas thanks to slow website speeds, with a global study released this week indicating Australian retail sites are among some of the slowest in the world to load.
According to a study by digital performance monitoring company Dynatrace, Australia’s average retail homepage response time this Christmas shopping period is 9.2 seconds.
This compares to an average response time of 3.8 seconds among US retailers and 3.9 seconds for retailers in the UK.
It puts Australia at the bottom of a list of 12 countries, with Germany, France, Italy, India, Spain, Japan, Norway, South Korea and China all recording faster average response times in the study.
Dynatrace collected the data by monitoring the homepage response times of retailers in the selected countries every 10 minutes over a period of 12 months.
Thirty Australian retail sites were included in the study, although some of the sites included are owned by large, multinational corporations.
Dynatrace found the top five performing retail site in Australia based on homepage response times are Apple, GraysOnline, Myer, eBay and Amazon, with these five websites recording an average response time of 2.9 seconds and a 99.4% rate of content availability.
While Dynatrace has not revealed the rankings for other Australian sites from this particular study, the company said the five slowest Australian sites are averaging a homepage response time of more than 16 seconds, along with low levels of availability and inconsistent response times.
Dynatrace also undertook ‘last mile’ testing on the sites, which considers how the sites are actually performing for end users.
Dave Anderson, head of marketing in the APAC region for Dynatrace, said in a statement the ‘last mile’ tests “often paints a more sombre picture than data centre results”.
“For example, when we look at the real user PC results for the entire local retail group, the average homepage response time looks more like 12.5 seconds – as opposed to 9.4 seconds,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the local results are slow whichever way you look at them and puts Australia firmly at the bottom of the global site performance ladder.”
Paul Greenberg, chief executive of the National Online Retailers Association, told SmartCompany this morning “customers do feel the need for speed” when it comes to online shopping.
“All research shows quick site loads are well-linked to conversion and when there are slow site loads, conversions decline,” Greenberg says.
“There is a strong correlation.”
Greenberg says Australian retailers are increasingly competing on a global stage and so website speeds are something “we have to really address”.
But Greenberg says the responsibility for making online shopping more efficient in Australia doesn’t just sit with the retailers themselves, pointing out that a website homepage that can load quickly is not much use to consumers who don’t have access to fast internet connections.
“There are things businesses can do to their own websites around optimising content and making sure it’s not too clunky,” he says.
“There is also a big conversation to have with the government around faster broadband speeds. It’s a two-way conversation.”
Greenberg says retail site speeds in Australia are improving and says Myer’s place in Dynatrace’s top five ranking highlights how businesses that have previously been criticised for their e-commerce platforms can “come from behind”.
And he says smaller retailers that are “nimble and agile” and that have smaller inventories are well-placed to make these improvements.
Average retail homepage response times by countries, according to Dynatrace:
- Spain 3.3 seconds
- Germany 3.7 seconds
- US 3.8 seconds
- UK 3.9 seconds
- France 3.9 seconds
- Japan 4.4 seconds
- Norway 4.5 seconds
- South Korea 5.1 seconds
- Italy 5.7 seconds
- India 5.8 seconds
- China 6.7 seconds
- Australia 9.2 seconds